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Authors: Christie Anderson

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BOOK: Ambrosia Shore
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Violette didn’t seem to notice my distraction. “So, I guess you’re Rayne’s girlfriend?” she continued. As she spoke, I slid my hand into my pocket, but was able to relax as soon as I felt the smooth, hard surface of the stone safely beneath my fingers.

“Um, yeah,” I nodded. “I’m Sadie.”

“That’s an unusual name,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before.”

“You haven’t?” I asked. It was pretty common where I came from.

“Vee,” her mother instructed, “don’t be rude.”

Violette put one hand on her hip. “I’m not, Mom. I’m trying to tell her that I like it.” She rolled her eyes at her mother and turned back to me. “What I was just about to say before my mother
…is that I think your name is pretty.”

“Really?” I said happily, feeling totally at home, as if I was with any one of the girls from my school in Newport Beach. “I was just about to say the same thing to you. Violette is a really cool name.”

Violette squinted and gave me a funny look. “Cool? You say that word too? I can tell you’ve been hanging out with my brother. He says the word
all the time. Well, ever since he became a Keeper.” She started to talk a mile a minute. “Wait, does that mean you’re a Keeper, too?” Her eyebrows lifted with intrigue. “Can you tell me about your escapades to Earth?” I tried to shake my head, but Violette kept going. “Well, I’m going to be an agent someday too, but not a Keeper. I’m going to be a Scout. I’m just about to finish my last semester of training at TAPS, and my instructors say I’m one of their best students.”

“Taps?” I asked. “What’s that?”

Violette eyed me, like she couldn’t believe I was so completely clueless. “The Academy Preparatory School…in downtown Banya…”

Before I could respond, a rumbling of noise moved toward us from the other room as Rayne’s two older brothers and a large dog stumbled over each other into the kitchen.

Binnie frowned immediately. “What is that animal doing in my kitchen? Supper is almost ready.”

Both brothers seemed to be completely oblivious to their mother’s request.

“I’m Flint,” the older-looking one said to me with a big grin.

The other brother shoved Flint aside and put on a charming smile. “Just ignore him,” he said, holding out his hand. “Flint is an old, married man. I’m Lark, the younger,
brother. And I’m single…”

“Too bad Sadie’s spoken for,” Rayne said, entering the room behind them.

Lark glanced back at Rayne and snickered. “What’s a girl like you doing with my goofball little brother anyway?” He suddenly flinched when Flint punched him in the arm.

“Hey! What was that for?” Lark said, hitting his brother back in the chest.

The oldest brother smirked. “Stop making a fool of yourself, Lark. You’re just jealous because both your brothers have beautiful women to come home to at night, and all you’ve got by your side is a Labrador Retriever.”

“Okay, that’s enough,” Binnie ordered. “And speaking of beautiful women… Aren’t you forgetting something, son?” Binnie looked sternly in Flint’s direction. “Now go get your very pregnant wife and help her to the table before I kick your backside all the way to Banya. And you,” she said to Lark, “take that dog of yours outside and get back in here to help your sister finish setting the table.”

Despite their somewhat overeager welcome, and the fact that they were acting like a bunch of twelve-year-olds, I couldn’t help but notice that both Rayne’s brothers were very attractive in their own way. The married one, Flint, had gorgeous green eyes and a strong jaw, just like Rayne and their father. Lark, on the other hand, shared more features with their mother, with warm, glowing amber eyes and a softer-looking face. Of course, it was hard not to notice how strong and tan they all were. It was obvious they’d spent their entire lives working out in the fields.

Binnie allowed Rayne to guide me to my seat in the dining room just as Flint returned with his wife. Their mother wasn’t kidding; this woman looked extremely pregnant. She practically had to waddle her way into the room. I watched carefully as Flint transformed into a totally different person, helping his wife patiently into her chair like a perfect gentleman and a loving husband. It made me smile.

After a tired thank you from his wife and a kiss on the cheek, Flint returned to the kitchen to help his mother carry in the food. The woman took a deep breath and sat quietly in the chair across from us. When Rayne turned to me and said, “This is Flint’s wife, Ivy,” she simply nodded at me and said, “Nice to meet you,” then went back to taking deep breaths. I couldn’t really blame her, though. She looked seriously uncomfortable, like her abdomen was going to explode at any moment.

The rest of the family joined us a few minutes later, including Dolan who was escorting an elderly woman, who I figured had to be Rayne’s grandmother, to the table. I glanced around the room as everyone settled in. It was something I’d never really experienced before; a large family all gathered together at the dinner table like it was a special occasion, playful banter between siblings, a heartfelt blessing on the food by Rayne’s mother to give thanks for all they had. It was practically a room full of strangers, and yet I felt completely at home.

The only time it got a little uncomfortable was during the middle of dinner when they all started asking me questions like—Where are you from? What do your parents do? Where did you and Rayne meet? How long have you known each other?—that type of thing, which were all completely normal, valid questions. But I definitely had to stop and think of the best way to answer them a few times. I couldn’t exactly give away the fact that I was basically on this planet illegally and no one was supposed to know about it. But, Rayne helped me through it, and his family seemed satisfied enough by our answers.

Once we were all so full we couldn’t eat another biscuit covered in lizzy jam—which was perfectly sweet and tart and absolutely delicious, and no surprise considering the fruit was practically magical—we all gathered together in the family room in front of the massive stone fireplace. Well, everyone except Flint’s wife, Ivy. She was so exhausted that she went back into one of the bedrooms to sleep.

Binnie spent her time in a chair near the fireplace, working on some sort of intricate needlework for a blanket she was making, and Rayne’s grandmother, Andella, sat quietly in the chair on the opposite side of the fire, listening to Rayne’s father strum at his guitar.

Flint, Lark, and Rayne played a surprisingly vigorous game of cards at the coffee table while Violette focused all of her attention on me. She told me all about her classes and friends at prep school, and her horse out in the stable that she named Earth because she was obsessed with the idea that it was the most exciting, interesting place she had ever heard of and couldn’t wait to leave Ambrosia to visit there someday. I personally thought she was crazy for wanting to leave, but I couldn’t blame her for wondering what it would be like to travel somewhere totally different and new.

Suddenly, an unfamiliar voice called Rayne’s name out from across the room, unsteady but firm. It was his grandmother. Everyone stopped and the air went quiet. It was the first words I had heard her say all night. The elderly woman pushed herself up from her chair, reached down to remove the guitar from Dolan’s lap, and held it out in Rayne’s direction.

“Oh, yes,” Binnie said with a clap of her hands. “You have to play for us, darling. I haven’t heard your sweet voice in years.”

My stare followed after Rayne, wide-eyed, as I watched him stand hesitantly from his seat to relieve his grandmother’s shaky grasp on the guitar. In all the time I’d known him, he’d never once mentioned to me that he played. I held my breath as he took his father’s place at the edge of the fireplace.

When he had the guitar positioned in his lap, Rayne glanced up at me thoughtfully for a second before his hand began to strum across the strings. Unlike the cheerful, upbeat songs his father had played, Rayne’s sound was more mellow and sweet. The roll of the music moved through me, drawing me in. And when I heard Rayne’s familiar voice—the source of my strength and comfort through so many struggles from the past—flow out like his heart was reaching for mine, I felt myself melt.

A sweep of emotions emerged from below the surface, and I had to fight to hold them all in. He was beautiful. It was the only word I could think of to describe him, and I didn’t mean his smooth, tan chest or his impressive abs. It was him. Inside. Rayne’s soul was beautiful.





Rayne’s song lingered with me long after he was done. While his family all clapped and cheered, I stared at Rayne with hopeful eyes, too overcome with devotion to move away from his gaze, which was centered right back at mine, tethering our thoughts together.

But a moment later, Rayne looked away. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a ringing cell phone, and then excused himself quietly from the room. I couldn’t ignore my curiosity. I rose discreetly from the couch and followed him to a back room in the house. As soon as I reached him, Rayne was already ending the call.

Rayne smiled when he saw me approach. “I have good news,” he said, placing both hands on the sides of my shoulders. “That was Jax. He received confirmation that both your parents are okay. Your mother is alive and completely unharmed.”

I gasped with relief as the terrible ache I’d been suppressing all night finally released. “Are you sure?” I said, feeling like I needed some sort of confirmation.

Rayne nodded. “Jax said he spoke to your father directly.”

My face brightened. “You mean…my mom’s okay?” I couldn’t contain the smile or the happy moisture taking over my eyes. I sprang forward and wrapped my arms around him.

“You don’t know what a relief this is,” I said when I pulled away. “It was like I was carrying a pile of rocks around on my back all night, forcing a smile through the pain. I feel so much lighter now.”

“I know,” Rayne said, “me too. I’m so happy your mother is safe.”

Now that I could breathe a little easier, I took a minute to glance around the bedroom we were in. It was tiny, barely large enough to fit a twin size bed, one small dresser, and an old bookcase in the corner. Several small photos in wood frames were lined up along the shelves, including a picture of Rayne with his arm draped around the shoulder of his ex-best friend, Ash.

“Oh my gosh!” I said. “Is this your room?”

Rayne nodded. “Yep, this is it. Not that there’s much to it. I mean, this is where I grew up, but I haven’t spent much time here over the last fifteen years, not since I first left to train at the Academy.”

I tried to hold back an amused grin as my eyes wandered throughout the small room. It definitely had the feel of a young boy, with a collection of model cars on top of the dresser, sitting next to a large green piggybank shaped like a frog, and an old baseball glove thrown on the floor of the closet on top of a pile of old toys and action figures.

But when I saw the adorable blue super hero costume hanging in the closet next to a bunch of old t-shirts, I just had to laugh. It was too cute. “Let me guess,” I said, holding the costume out for him to see, “Super Rayne?”

“Yeah, I wish,” he laughed. “Actually, that’s my mom’s homemade version of the Human Healer costume.”

“The Human Healer?” I repeated.

“It’s a well-known comic book character in Banya. I was kind of obsessed with him as a kid. I had all the action figures for his whole team.”

Rayne leaned over the pile of toys at the bottom of the closet and started digging around. When he found the ones he was looking for he held them out to me one at a time, laughing at himself as he said, “You see, this guy here is the Human Healer who could pretty much heal anyone on Earth just by touching them; he is the team’s leader. And this guy here,” Rayne went on, holding up another action figure, “is Cloak. His cape is supposed to be magic, and as long as he’s wearing it, it makes him super strong and gives him the ability to fly. This guy here is Super Scout, who doesn’t really have powers, but is sort of this trained assassin, super-genius guy who has billions of dollars and pays for everything the team needs. And this beautiful woman here,” Rayne said, handing me the only female character from the group, “is Lizzy Lawrence, otherwise known as Legend.”

I stared down at the little doll in my hand, surprised to see that she was dressed up like a princess in a ball gown instead of a superhero costume like the others.

“So, what’s the girl’s power,” I said sarcastically, “hypnotizing men with her great beauty?”

,” Rayne said, pretending to be hurt. He took the doll out of my hand and straightened her little dress. “You see, Lizzy Lawrence is the most special one of all. She is the great, great granddaughter of Elizabeth Fairbanks, William Fairbank’s first wife, and she can communicate with the other side, with all the people who have passed on and know things no living being could possibly know.”

I squinted, not convinced that she sounded very special. “So, she’s like, a psychic or something?”

“Well, she started out that way.
…” Rayne said, sounding overly excited, like he was reliving his youth. “Eventually Lizzy Lawrence learned how to harness the powers of her ancestors, which was how she came to be known as Legend. At first she started out realizing she could turn herself into a spirit and fly and walk through walls, but soon she found out that, when she concentrated, she could actually move things with her mind by channeling her ancestors’ powers on the other side. By the end of the story, Legend was so strong that she could do anything; cause earthquakes, move mountains, pretty much whatever she wanted.”

I tried to hold back a chuckle. “Wow, sounds pretty exciting.”

Rayne smirked and tossed the action figure back on the pile of toys. “You don’t have to be polite; I give you permission to laugh at me all you want,” he said. Then, he pointed a finger at my face and pretended to be serious. “But you can’t crush a young boy’s dreams. If I want to be the Human Healer someday, then I’m going to be the Human Healer…you’ll see.”

I laughed and grabbed Rayne’s hand. “If you want to be the Human Healer, then by all means, you should go for it. Don’t let me stand in your way.”

It was fun to joke, but the more I thought about it, the more my curiosity started to grow.

“Wait,” I added a moment later, “so, you said this Legend-chick was supposed to be some kind of direct descendant of William Fairbanks?”

Rayne plopped himself casually down on the bed. “Well, yeah, but no one besides her team knew who she really was. There’s this whole back story about how she was an orphan and that’s why her last name was Lawrence and all that. Of course, the writers twisted all the real history around to make the story work the way they wanted it to. Everyone around here knows that William’s first wife died before she had any kids, before he even found the first Threshold.”

As soon as the word Threshold came out of Rayne’s mouth, he stopped and sat up stiffly on the bed. It was as if it was just now dawning on him why I had asked the question in the first place, suddenly remembering that, just a few days ago, Rayne had told me that
was the real life descendant of William Fairbanks.

“Oh sorry,” Rayne began, “I’m probably totally confusing you. What really happened, according to the history books, is that William’s wife Elizabeth died on the boat ride over from England to the Americas. Then, he married a woman named Jane Carpenter shortly after he discovered the Threshold. That means you and your father are both descended from William and Jane Fairbanks, not Elizabeth. The whole story about Lizzy Lawrence and her ancestors is just the product of a writer’s big imagination.”

I smiled. “Jane Carpenter, huh? So, did she have any super powers? Because I was really hoping to inherit some kind of cool super powers from my ancestors.”

“Not that I’m aware of, “Rayne said with a smirk.  “But hey, I wouldn’t give up hope. I mean, you never know…If I can be the Human Healer someday, then you—”

Just then, our joking was interrupted by a sudden, firm knock on the bedroom door. It was so loud it actually made me jump.

A hesitant voice called from the other side. “Rayne, it’s your father…” Then Dolan cleared his throat—a big, obvious noise—and said, “I’m coming in now…just a heads up in case—”

“It’s okay, you can come in,” Rayne called back with a chuckle.

Dolan entered slowly until he noticed Rayne alone on the bed and me standing near the closet several feet away. “Oh, good,” he said, sounding relieved. “Your mother just sent me back here to…uh…make sure Sadie made it over to the guest room safely. She’s making up the extra bed over at Nana’s house right now.”

Rayne stood from the bed and extended his hand toward me to lead the way out when his father said, “You stay here and make yourself comfortable, son. I’ll make sure the young lady makes it over in one piece. We wouldn’t want to make your mother worry, would we?”

Rayne rolled his eyes with a laugh. “Okay, Dad. Just give me a minute to say goodnight, and then she’s all yours.”

“Sorry,” Rayne said as soon as his father was outside the door. “My parents can be a little old-fashioned.”

“No, don’t worry about it. I think they’re cute. Your entire family is really great. I had a lot of fun tonight.”

Rayne smiled. “I had fun too.” Then he reached for my hand. “So, I guess you’ll be sleeping over at my Grandma’s place tonight. Are you okay with that?”

“Sure,” I said lightly. At this point, it really didn’t matter where I slept. I was in too good of a mood. My mother was finally safe, I had never felt better physically with all the Healing Water circulating through the air around me, and Rayne would be sleeping right across the way, surrounded by the most beautiful orchard I’d ever laid eyes on, in probably the most beautiful land in the entire universe, or at least of the parts that I had seen of it.

“Well, try not to miss me too much,” Rayne teased. Then, he moved near me and whispered in my ear, “At least…not as much as I’m going to miss you.” His lips brushed against my cheek, reminding me of how his touch could both soothe me and excite me all at the same time. “I’ll see you in the morning,” he said, and then he escorted me out of the room to meet back with his father.

Rayne’s grandmother’s home was just as quaint as his parent’s, although smaller, with an even older cottage feel to it. At least, the style was old; the actual structure and belongings inside the rooms appeared surprisingly well maintained, like they’d been around for years but hadn’t aged a day. Andella had already gone to bed, so Rayne’s mother, Binnie, showed me to my room and gave me some of Violette’s pajamas to borrow, as well as some clean clothes for the next day.

When I was finally alone, I started getting dressed for bed, but stopped when I noticed something fall out of the pocket of my pants. It was the Water Briolette I’d been safeguarding all night long. I had almost forgotten it was there. You would think it would be almost impossible to forget something so invaluable and rare, but with a day like today, the priceless stone had a lot to compete with.

Of course, once I had it in my hand, I had to take a moment to hold the tear-shaped crystal up and just stare at it. The way the facets glimmered and danced around the light was almost mesmerizing. I knew that I had found something special, something I should protect carefully, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to do that. So, for now, I slid it down into the bottom of my sock. And then, I drifted off to sleep, with dreams of Lizzy trees and Water Briolettes and Rayne’s kisses dancing through my head.


BOOK: Ambrosia Shore
5.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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